Thinking Anglicans

Objectors at consecrations: response from Lambeth Palace

Updated

I linked (in the Opinion columns on 23 and 30 July) to articles about the objections that have been voiced during recent consecrations of female bishops. These articles were in response to a press release from WATCH objecting to the facilitation of these objections. WATCH has today issued this press release:

Objectors at consecrations: response from Lambeth Palace
August 9th, 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury has informed us that conversations are in progress with the relevant people so that, in future, objections such as that at Canterbury Cathedral in June will not be allowed.

Thank you to those who have written in support of our statement.

Update

Mark Woods Christian Today Justin Welby: We’ll stop protests at consecration of women bishops

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Susannah Clark
Guest

I think it is a shame if services of consecration and dedication to God get damped by verbal objections which are basically a theological argument within the Church. The argument is legitimate, but the consecration services are personal as well as public, and I think it would be decent and orderly if – instead of verbal objections in the service – the opportunity to set out objections in writing, and have them published for all to read if they wish, was provided by Lambeth. We need to bear in mind that some of our fellow Christians have real and conscientious… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I sort of agree with Susannah. A compromise would be requiring objections to be notified to the presiding bishop 24 hours in advance which are then read out by the Bishop (in summary form).

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“We need to stop dominating one another, and show more respect for people’s conscientious beliefs.” Wish that I could demonstrate Susannah Clark’s charity on this matter, but I feel it is misplaced, and I post this as a member of WATCH. It is good that Lambeth is seeking to engage with these objectors (actually only currently one it seems) with a view to ending these interruptions at consecrations. They are by the way not always consecrations only of women. The mind of the Church is settled on the matter and the legal position is beyond doubt. Provision has been made… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

Do we give voice on Easter to those who don’t believe in the physical resurrection? Or vestments or candles on the altar?

Maybe the objectors might create a post at Thinking Anglicans.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Can we stop asking when Banns of Marriage are read if anyone has any cause or just impediment why the marriage may not proceed? I’ve been calling the Banns now for almost 40 years and no one has yet objected. If anyone did – then it would make my day. I also encourage couples soon to be married to have their weddings in the morning – so that if the marriage doesn’t work out – then they haven’t wasted the whole day!

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

I’m in agreement with Anthony Archer. There are no legal reasons that the ordinations of bishops who are women should not go ahead and the Church of England has come to the view that there are no other reasons that the ordinations should not go ahead. People, both within and without of the Church of England are welcome to dissent from that view, but this does not mean that they should be allowed to object in this way. The only intent in the objection is, as Anthony says, to undermine, insult and humiliate all women. It is entirely inappropriate behaviour… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Anthony, the question for me is one of clerical status. Is a bishop imposed upon lay members or do lay members have a role to play in selecting their bishop? The call for objections is the last vestige of the latter and, if removed – even if it is an entirely notional and impotent call – then we revert to the Crown imposing a bishop. That is not the sort of church I want. If you wish to remove objections at the last moment then we need to dispense with the involvement of the Crown and hold elections for bishops… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Anthony, your comments and insights are always valuable. When you refer to ‘the mind of the Church’, do you mean ‘the majority of the Church’? And if so, shouldn’t the minority in this case – those who genuinely can’t in conscience accept episcopal oversight by a woman, on either catholic or headship grounds – be afforded ongoing outlet to express dissent in what (to them) remains an open wound in the Church? I’m referring to members of the Church of England on electoral rolls, and not people from independent churches (although, I suppose, by the nature of Establishment, Stephen Holland… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

If I switch to the issue of human sexuality briefly, as a kind of equivalent… at the moment ‘the mind of the Church’ as things stand is that gay sex is sinful and falls short of the ideal of heterosexual sex. And that gay priests who get married to their partners should be sanctioned. That too, is the dominant ‘mind of the Church’. And yet, we know that there also exists sincere and conscientious belief in the opposite point of view. At what stage, if any, do we rule out dissent? Does the mind of the majority simply dominate the… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“When you refer to ‘the mind of the Church’, do you mean ‘the majority of the Church’?” I am not sure the Church of England has necessarily adopted this expression in terms of its ecclesiology (unlike perhaps the Orthodox) but what I meant is what is contained in the Statement of Guiding Principles of the House of Bishops (which incidentally need to be read as one – no picking and choosing between the five!). Inter alia, the CofE is fully and equivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open to all and that anyone who ministers within the Church… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“Anthony, the question for me is one of clerical status” The reason I refer to the declaration by the congregation is that it is that point in the service which provides the opportunity for these lunatics to stand up. I agree that there would be consequences about dispensing with it. “The practice of seeking the consent of the laity has been traditional at ordinations since the earliest times and is one of the ways in which expression is given to the concept of ordination as the action of the whole Church and not just of the bishop or archbishop who… Read more »

american piskie
Guest
american piskie

I think Kate is wrong. The appointment of bishops in the Church of England is a lay matter. That choice is articulated by the Sovereign who issues (on advice, that is from the Prime Minister) a mandate to consecrate, which is read at the consecration service: the assent of the people of England. It is only the re-importation of foreign ecclesiologies in recent years which has introduced the licence to disrupt. Until the superfluous “question” can be removed then I can’t understand why the BCP service is not used for all consecrations.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

A consecration is not about the personal comfort of the bishop-elect. It is a public ceremony elevating that person to public office. The question to the People is part of the service. If the question is sincere, and not simply for show, then the People should be allowed to raise objections. It makes little sense to permit some objections, and not others. It would also be transparent and fair for objections (if briefly and reasonably stated) to be heard and understood, so that the presider’s reasons for disregarding them can be understood. (If an objection is not stated briefly and… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

I don’t think Kate has it right. If there is a place for laymen to object to an ordination, that should come at a time and place prior to the consecration in the church. Isn’t all the paperwork “signed and sealed” prior to this point? What would an objection — even by many — obtain? Would the consecration come to a halt? Certainly not.

Alastair Newman
Guest

“shouldn’t the minority in this case – those who genuinely can’t in conscience accept episcopal oversight by a woman, on either catholic or headship grounds – be afforded ongoing outlet to express dissent in what (to them) remains an open wound in the Church?” Yes, but not in the course of public worship. Disrupting consecration of a bishop is not acceptable. Disrupting ordination of a priest or deacon is not acceptable. Taking hold a chalice of wine consecrated by a female bishop or priest and casting it on the floor (in the belief that it is not in fact consecrated)… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

“If the question is sincere, and not simply for show, then the People should be allowed to raise objections.” That is a reasonable position. However, it clearly _is_ for show. If the question were sincere, the only sensible thing that could be done in the event of an objection being raised would be for the ceremony to be suspended sine die, until the objection can be considered by a duly established process. After that process has completed, the consecration can then proceed, or not, as appropriate. But how is that working in this case? What is the formal process to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

Thanks Anthony. Always useful reading your posts. On one statement though: “the CofE is fully and equivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open to all” Is it? (I’m assuming that was a typo and you meant unequivocally… but is ordained ministry and episcopacy open to gay and lesbian Christians in loving, sexual relationships?) I suppose the answer is that the Church does not exclude people on grounds that they are gay, but on grounds that they practice a version of sex that conflicts with the ‘mind of the Church’. But that presupposes that it is ok to require… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

Normally I value Susannah Clark’s contributions very much indeed. However for I think the first time I wish to take issue with two of her comments: “We need to bear in mind that some of our fellow Christians have real and conscientious reasons for objecting. Those deserve to be acknowledged out of respect, and so I think fair treatment is really important, otherwise we end up marginalising and devaluing a group of Christians who are sincere, faithful and part of ‘us’.” and “Kindness and respect is owed to those who can’t accept female bishops too. We should all go the… Read more »

Anne
Guest
Anne

Thank you Anthony Archer for your very clear and helpful posts. Thank you, too Andrew Godsall. As I said earlier I have been present when the objections have been made. As a woman I felt undermined, devalued and humiliated. Thank you Anthony and Andrew for putting it so well.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“If it isn’t theatre, then what is the due process by which objections are adjudicated?” “Due process” begs the question of what process is “due.” The answer is surely that it depends on the objection–and that in order to make that determination, the objection must be heard. At this point, any objection that the Church should not ordain women to the episcopate is of course due no process whatsoever. If that objection is made, then the presider should briefly and very publicly state the Church’s position, and then should continue on with the service. But consider this hypothetical, however unlikely… Read more »

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

In my diocese we have dealt with the problem, not on the ordination of women, but of gay and lesbian ordinands. At the first occasion, the objectors had submitted an objection in writing ahead of time. At the appropriate point in the liturgy, they rose and one of them briefly stated the objection. The bishop then took them off into the baptistry for a short conversation, while we sang a hymn (they needed something to prevent dead air on the radio broadcast). The bishop then read a prepared statement, to the effect that there was no legal or doctrinal impediment… Read more »

Michael Merriman
Guest
Michael Merriman

The American Church asks of the congregation
“Is it you will that we ordain N. a bishop?” Thus there might be a few “no’s” but nothing disrupting.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

“If it’s theatre, and it upsets people, then there is no harm in stopping it.”

I agree, Interested Observer. Although since not one of the bishops subjected to are standing up for the rights of LGBT people — and worse, are complicit in doing a lot worse to them than a brief objection in a consecration — can’t say I’m overly concerned about their feelings. They, after all, don’t appear to be overly concerned about the feelings of others.

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

Indeed, James. Human rights are universal, and you can quite reasonably point out that women bishops are keen that one sort of arbitrary discrimination be ended – that against women – while not particularly caring about another equally arbitrary discrimination – that against gay people – being continued. At least conservatives are consistent in their wish to discriminate. The phrase “pulling the ladder up after them” springs to mind.

Geoff McL.
Guest
Geoff McL.

“It makes little sense to permit some objections, and not others.” It is entirely consistent and sensible to limit the invitation to objections in law. The consecration liturgy is not the time for gripes about the bishop’s fashion sense, choice of football club, or what kind of car s/he drives. Legally, objections to gender fall in the same camp. I thank Fr Jim for sharing our experience with objections. I was one who thought +Barry was entirely too generous with the objectors (most of whom were themselves married, and so their objections, if successful, would have been a bit of… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I understand that most Night Clubs worth their salt employ a couple of traditionally built Bouncers clad in black to “man” the door of these establishments. If your name ain’t “on the list” then entry is verboten. Surely the same tactic can be employed by the Church of England with sturdy doorkeepers stationed at the portals of Canterbury cathedral and York Minster armed with a list containing a single name “Stephen Holland” who will be denied entry whenever a female is to be presented for consecration? Cut out the cackle and take up my suggestion – problem solved! Holy Scripture,… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

I am with Jim Pratt. There is no reason why an objection cannot be handled with dignity on both sides. I sympathise with Anne but there are two difficulties. The first, and a very big difficulty, is that CofE makes formal provision for people who cannot accept the ordination or consecration of women so the objectors are simply raising a point which remains formal CofE doctrine for some priests and bishops. The second difficulty is that silencing people for voicing this element of accepted doctrine is itself discriminatory. Incidentally I don’t subscribe to the view that is there is no… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

I agree with everything you say in your post, Anne. I really do. This thread of comments has been really enlightening and thought-provoking for me. I’m unclear how the issue of difference and dissent should be handled. I’m unsettled by the complexity of demanding inclusion for all, while not leaving people behind. I definitely believe that dissent should not be voiced in a service where women (and men) are celebrating their lives and service in Christ. That seems to me to breach decency, respect and kindness. At the same time, as someone on the catholic side of Anglicanism, I truly… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“Thanks Anthony. Always useful reading your posts. On one statement though: “the CofE is fully and equivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open to all.” Is it?” A few final points to add to what has been an excellent discussion thread. Thanks to Susannah for the typo spot. The first of the five guiding principles states: “Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

(Sorry, just noticed other version of this was over the limit)… Anthony (sorry, I know you’ve said you’re making a final comment, and I’m not seeking reply – indeed I am really grateful for your various posts, which I have found thought-provoking and helpful): “These are not rational, sane objections to the consecration of particular episcopal candidates… These are objections to woman episcopal ordinands solely because they are women.” I am not in any way trying to defend the individual you’ve cited. As I’ve already said, I am opposed to vocal objections in a service, and would prefer the objection… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Haven’t Churchwardens the right to arrest anyone making a disturbance in the churchyard or those interrupting divine worship? It’s a shame that cathedrals don’t have churchwardens. I’d be more than happy for a small consideration towards the Roof Repair Fund to let any dean borrow my two formidable female churchwardens – I can assure you – they would soon “sort out” any possible objector.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“The situation would be very different if a member of the public got up and said, ‘you do realise that this person is …. [less than thirty years of age] …”

So age discrimination is OK then? Just what is the Scriptural justification of that? I guess it would be OK to object too if a candidate was gay or trans?

I was open-minded but you have just converted me to the side of those who protest.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Thanks Kate, but I was making an oblique reference to Canon C2 Of the consecration of bishops. You need to be at least 30 years of age!!

Re Susannah, I think you are re-opening the debate which we have had and which is now settled.

Over and out.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

The question is a liturgical question, not a legal one, and it seeks an affirmation from the congregation, not legal consent. (For a diocesan bishop all the legalities have been settled at the Confirmation of their election, and for both diocesan and suffragan bishops the royal mandate to consecrate is all the legal proof required.) There is no space for lengthy objection — the archbishop would presumably be entitled to carry on if someone insisted on speaking, just as they might if someone started objecting to any aspect of the service (e.g. during the sermon, or objecting to say the… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Anthony, I fully realised you were making a reference to Canon but it is still age discrimination. Why should a teenager not be a bishop? Jesus taught in the temple at age 12. Women = can be consecrated but might have to endure thirty seconds of objection Non-celibate gay men and women = cannot be consecrated Trans people = nobody even fussed that nobody who has changed gender has been consecrated Young and elderly Christians = cannot be consecrated So three massive injustices and one trivial irritation. Obvious really where a campaign is needed and which the archbishop of Canterbury… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Simon Kershaw, I agree that the question is liturgical, but to my mind that does not mean that only the prayer-book answer is permitted. (See my hypothetical above.)

Good liturgical order not require the suppression of valid objections.

WATCH’s real beef here is with one person. It turns out that there are provisions in English law to handle persistent disruption of religious services.

So I’m hopeful that Lambeth can find a way to resolve this particular problem, while making it clear that any legitimate, good-faith objection to elevating someone to high public office should not be stifled.